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Amoebas? In America?

Most Americans like to feel like their drinking water is really pretty clean. That is why each municipality has its own water treatment system to help guarantee the cleanliness of the water. Each water treatment facility also has to do their own testing for certain levels of bacteria, metals, minerals, and other common contaminants. These tests are guarded by the Environmental Protection Agency and their required levels of certain harmful substances. These safeguards are the things we must depend on when it comes to our safety and our drinking water.

It is common knowledge that when traveling to other countries it is best not to drink their water, to buy bottled water instead. This is a common practice among travelers to maintain their health and well being while on vacation since no one wants to spend their entire vacation in some hotel or airport bathroom. These other countries often have small microorganisms found in their water. One of these common microorganisms is the amoeba.

The amoeba is studied across the nation in middle school science rooms under a microscope. What students don’t learn is that this little organism is infesting water across the world – even in America. This little living organism can be incredibly dangerous as well as hardly be noticed at all. It all depends on the host to the organism. This microorganism can bring on disease such as corneal infection causing blindness and even a rapid brain inflammation that can lead to death. In other hosts it can cause far simpler symptoms like diarrhea, cramping, and mucus bloody stools. The really scary thing about this little amoeba though is not in the symptoms it can produce but more in the way it can hide from us.

Amoebas have an evil alter ego: After they infest the body as a dormant cyst and trophozoite (a later form that is motile and active), they travel to the small intestine where they become a Trojan and can carry around harmful bacteria allowing them to not only multiply inside the amoeba cells but also evade disinfection agents at water treatment facilities. An amoebic cyst can resist iodine and chlorine if concentration of these chemicals is too low. The amoeba’s life cycle includes forming a cyst which can be very resilient as the outer shell protects the organism and allows it to live outside the body for long periods of time. The infection is spread in cyst form making it easier for it to infect water supplies. Animals are the most common carriers thus spreaders of the disease.

The best answer to cleaning up this little microorganism is not only by the water treatment plant testing for it, but also by homeowners providing their own filtration system. Because this little organism is in the cyst stage when it is spread, filtration is the most effective water treatment process available today. The amoeba can actually survive boiling water and can live in water treated with certain levels of chlorine. At the current time water treatment plants are not required to test for the amoeba and in most cases are not even fully aware of the threat they pose. In fact, out of 26 studies done in 18 nations all had identified amoebas in some part of the drinking water systems. That is 100% contamination at some point on the way to where people would consume the water. In another group of studies on tap water, in 45% of the cases the amoeba was also found.

The water we drink is supposed to be safe and clean. However, there is only one way to be certain that it is and that is to take action for ourselves. The most important things in life shouldn’t be left to someone else to do for us, it’s up to us. There are home water treatment systems available that can help us guarantee our own drinking water safety. It’s time to do our own homework and see which system would fit our needs the best. Filtering our water can remove so many nasty little bugs and organisms not to mention minerals and metals that our bodies are better off without. Bottled water isn’t guaranteed unless it has been pasteurized, so the best answer remains at our own tap. Filter it, drink it, and appreciate the safety of it.

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